Pete Seeger's Birthday Concert to Begin Airing on PBS

 "Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Celebration from Madison Square Garden" is set to premiere in high-definition on New York PBS channel Thirteen's "Great Performances" series on Thursday, July 30 at 8 p.m. (EST). The program will also air throughout the country on local PBS stations, most likely in August. So check local listings for availability, or visit Great Performances Online at  for additional information.

Condensed to two and a-half hours, the Seeger celebration presents highlights from the extraordinary May 3 event at New York's historic arena, where a multi-generational roster of artists, whose music has been shaped by Seeger's vision, gathered to commemorate his 90th birthday. Over 40 artists representing all genres of folk music participated, and besides John
included Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Richie Havens, Roger McGuinn, Ani DiFranco, Taj Mahal, Ben Harper and Dave Matthews.

John essentially kicked the concert off in high gear. Following an opening collaboration by a dozen or so Native American musicians called the Native American Indian Cultural Alliance, John offered a solo acoustic guitar version of Seeger's classic anthem of justice and brotherly love "If I Had a Hammer." He then sang his own "A Ride Back Home," which he claimed to have written "after listening to a bunch of Pete Seeger songs."

"We're all honored to be here tonight to sing this man's songs and pay tribute to him and all the struggles he's gone through in his life," he told the packed arena, then added, "Without Pete's inspiration, I don't' think anybody here would be a musician."

John returned to the stage at the end of the evening to join the entire line-up on Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," singing next to Kristofferson and dancing off with Baez and Guthrie's daughter Nora Guthrie. "I had a wonderful time seeing and hearing so many great artists," he told afterwards. "And Pete, of course: It's a pretty amazing accomplishment to have written as many great songs as Pete has, that have become so much a part of the landscape of America."

He reflected further on the incredible night in an interview with CMT in Nashville the next day.

"So many people in your life give up too early and never get back again," he said. "That's not the way to live life. Seeger taught us that last night, 90 years-old up there in that sold-out place. He may look a little funny with his hat and flannel shirt, but he can kick your ass!"

"Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Celebration from Madison Square Garden," incidentally, was a benefit for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a non-profit, environmental organization created by Seeger to bring awareness to the importance of protecting the Hudson River and our other natural resources.